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Phosphate Glasses

Definition: certain glasses from which certain optical fibers and laser gain media can be made, for example

More general term: optical glasses

German: Phosphatgläser

Categories: optical materialsoptical materials, fiber optics and waveguidesfiber optics and waveguides


Cite the article using its DOI: https://doi.org/10.61835/xqj

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Phosphate glasses are glass materials based on phosphorus pentoxide (P2O5) with some added chemical components. They are used as laser gain media – both in bulk lasers and in the form of optical fibers. One of their primary advantages is their very high solubility for rare earth ions (→ rare-earth-doped laser gain media) such as erbium (Er3+), ytterbium (Yb3+) and neodymium (Nd3+). This means that high concentrations of laser-active rare earth ions can be incorporated into phosphate glasses without detrimental effects such as clustering, which could degrade the performance via quenching effects. For example, erbium-doped fibers can be made with much higher doping concentrations than silica fibers: several weight percent are possible. This allows the construction of rather short fiber lasers and amplifiers, which can be beneficial not only for reasons of compactness:

Some other characteristics of phosphate glasses:

  • The spectral range with high optical transmission is about 0.4 μm to 2 μm – narrower than for silica glasses.
  • The transition cross-sections and upper-state lifetimes of rare earth ions in phosphate glasses are often favorable. For example, they are often well suited for making fiber amplifiers with large gain bandwidth, as the spectral shape of the transition cross-sections is wide and quite smooth.
  • Phosphate glasses have a very low glass transition temperature, typically below 400 °C. Therefore, phosphate fiber ends melt relatively easily when being heated in high-power operation. Special care is therefore required for pump injection when realizing high-power fiber lasers and amplifiers with phosphate glasses.
  • Phosphate glasses exhibit a much lower optical damage threshold and a lower thermal conductivity than silica glasses.
  • The opto-thermal coefficient <$\partial n / \partial T$> is negative, in contrast to many other gain media. This means that the direct thermal contribution on thermal lensing is negative (defocusing), whereas additional stress and bulging effects are positive (focusing); overall, thermal lensing can be rather weak.
  • The nonlinear index of phosphate glasses is very low – nearly 3 times lower than for silica glasses.

Mixtures of phosphate and fluoride glasses are called fluorophosphate glasses. Similarly, there are phosphosilicate and aluminophosphate glasses. Such glasses are also often used as laser gain media.

The combination of phosphate and silica fibers in a device can be problematic, since fusion splicing of these different materials is difficult (although not impossible) due to the very different glass transition temperatures.

More to Learn

Encyclopedia articles:


[1]E. Snitzer et al., “Phosphate glass Er3+ laser”, IEEE J. Quantum Electron. 4 (5), 360 (1968); https://doi.org/10.1109/JQE.1968.1075267
[2]V. B. Kravchenko and Yu. P. Rudnitskii, “Phosphate laser glasses”, Sov. J. Quantum Electron. 9 (4), 399 (1979); https://doi.org/10.1070/QE1979v009n04ABEH008899
[3]L. Yan and C. H. Lee, “Thermal effects in end-pumped Nd:phosphate glasses”, J. Appl. Phys. 75 (3), 1286 (1994); https://doi.org/10.1063/1.356405
[4]B.-C. Hwang et al., “Cooperative upconversion and energy transfer of new high Er3+- and Yb3+–Er3+-doped phosphate glasses”, J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 17 (5), 833 (2000); https://doi.org/10.1364/JOSAB.17.000833
[5]J. F. Philipps et al., “Spectroscopic and lasing properties of Er3+:Yb3+-doped fluoride phosphate glasses”, Appl. Phys. B 72, 399 (2001); https://doi.org/10.1007/s003400100515
[6]D. K. Sardar, “Judd–Ofelt analysis of the Er3+(4f11) absorption intensities in phosphate glass: Er3+, Yb3+”, J. Appl. Phys. 93 (4), 2041 (2003); https://doi.org/10.1063/1.1536738
[7]J. Dong, M. Bass and C. Walters, “Temperature-dependent stimulated-emission cross section and concentration quenching in Nd^+-doped phosphate glasses”, J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 21 (2), 454 (2004); https://doi.org/10.1364/JOSAB.21.000454
[8]L. I. Avakyants et al., “A new phosphate laser glass”, J. Opt. Technol. 71 (12), 828 (2004); https://doi.org/10.1364/JOT.71.000828
[9]Y. W. Lee et al., “20 W single-mode Yb3+-doped phosphate fiber laser”, Opt. Lett. 31 (22), 3255 (2006); https://doi.org/10.1364/OL.31.003255
[10]A. Schulzgen et al., “Microstructured active phosphate glass fibers for fiber lasers”, IEEE J. Lightwave Technol. 27 (11), 1734 (2009); https://doi.org/10.1109/JLT.2009.2022476
[11]S. Xu et al., “400 mW ultrashort cavity low-noise single-frequency Yb3+-doped phosphate fiber laser”, Opt. Lett. 36 (18), 3708 (2011); https://doi.org/10.1364/OL.36.003708
[12]G. Zhang et al., “Neodymium-doped phosphate fiber lasers with an all-solid microstructured inner cladding”, Opt. Lett. 37 (12), 2259 (2012); https://doi.org/10.1364/OL.37.002259
[13]S. Fu et al., “Diode-pumped 1.15 W linearly polarized single-frequency Yb3+-doped phosphate fiber laser”, Opt. Express 29 (19), 30637 (2021); https://doi.org/10.1364/OE.438787
[14]D. C. Brown, N. S. Tomasello and C. L. Hancock, “Absorption and emission cross-sections, Stark energy levels, and temperature dependent gain of Yb:QX phosphate glass”, Opt. Express 29 (21), 33818 (2021); https://doi.org/10.1364/OE.435615

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